French, German and Italian ministers to meet on Sunday over migrant help

Migrants wait to be rescued by "Save the Children" NGO crew from the ship Vos Hestia in the Mediterranean sea off Libya coast, June 18, 2017. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

PARIS (Reuters) - The interior ministers of France, Germany and Italy will meet in Paris on Sunday to discuss ways to help Italy, which has been struggling with the masses of migrants arriving on its shores and has demanded solidarity from other members of the European Union.

With the backing of the European Commission, Italy has threatened to close its ports to migrant rescue boats so as to redirect them to other Mediterranean countries.

It has seen more than 500,000 migrant arrivals since 2014, including 82,000 so far this year.

“I will receive the Italian and German interior ministers on Sunday,” French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told Reuters on the sidelines of a police academy graduation.

But an aide said the meeting was not likely to yield an immediate decision given that EU interior ministers are due to meet next week in Tallinn, Estonia.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday that the executive arm of the bloc will discuss further measures with Italy and Greece in the coming week to help them deal with their migrant arrivals. [nL8N1JR21H]

The Commission on Thursday threw its weight behind a plea by Italy for other EU states to allow rescue boats carrying migrants to dock in their ports. It has been suggested that the ports in Barcelona and Marseille could receive migrant boats.

Reporting by Catherine Lagrange and Jean-Baptiste Vey; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Hugh Lawson